WHY IS BIODIVERSITY SO IMPORTANT?

To understand why biodiversity is so important, we must first understand what an ecosystem is.

An ecosystem is a community of living organisms. They interact with each other and their non-living environments. For an ecosystem to function and survive, it needs Biodiversity.

Biodiversity refers to the number and variety of all living things. Plants, animals, insects, and all living things that exist within an ecosystem.

THERE ARE 3 TYPES OF BIODIVERSITY:

SPECIES

Animals, plants, and micro-organisms

GENETIC DIVERSITY

Animals: Birds, Aquatic animals, and terrestrial animals  

 Plants: Trees, flowers, shrubs, herbs, and mosses

Micro-organisms: Bacteria, fungi, algae, and plankton

ECOSYSTEM DIVERSITY

Forest ecosystems

Grassland ecosystems

Desert ecosystems

Aquatic ecosystems

WHY IS BIODIVERSITY SO IMPORTANT TO AN ECOSYSTEM’S SURVIVAL?

The circle of life – “Life depends on life to survive”. All living species are interconnected and need each other to survive. 

For example, plants feed on soil. Insects feed on plants and in return pollinate plants, helping them to spread and bear fruit. Birds eat the fruit, helping new plants to grow by dropping seeds. Birds die, and micro-organisms feed on them. Micro-organisms then release nutrients into the soil. Nutrients then feed the plants, and the circle of life is complete.

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CHARACTERISTICS OF AN ECOSYSTEM WITH A RICH BIODIVERSITY

All these factors offer humans social, economic, cultural, and ecological benefits.

 

Read more about reach biodiversity importance here.

 

Read more about biodiversity loss here.

WHY WARM CLIMATES PROVIDE GREATER DIVERSITY

In certain parts of the globe, you will find greater biodiversity than others. An international study done by a team of scientists shows temperature drives biodiversity. 

Data revealed that more plant species can grow in warm temperatures. That means more food and types of food for animals. This in turn leads to greater biodiversity.

   Read more on Science Daily.

LOSS OF BIODIVERSITY

The effects of biodiversity loss can have dramatic effects on an ecosystem. The smallest decrease in biodiversity disrupts the balance of an ecosystem.

THERE ARE 3 MAIN THREATS TO BIODIVERSITY:

NATURAL BIODIVERSITY LOSS

  • Seasons: At the equator, where climates are steady, you have small seasonal changes. Natural cycles cause changes in temperature and rainfall. These changes affect the rise and fall of biodiversity.

During the warmer months, plants begin to grow and produce food animals to eat. In turn, these animals breed, causing the area’s biodiversity to rise. 

The opposite happens during the colder months. Plants stop growing and producing food. Insects begin to die out. Animals either migrate to warmer areas to find food or hibernate through the winter.

Because they rise and fall every year, this kind of natural biodiversity loss is sustainable. 

  • Natural ecological disturbances: Nature is always changing. Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and wildfires all have an effect on biodiversity loss.

In areas affected by natural ecological disturbances, species have to migrate. Searching for new homes and food.

These disturbances are temporary. The ecosystem will adapt and return to the affected area.

HUMAN – DRIVEN BIODIVERSITY LOSS

Humans are the biggest threat to biodiversity loss and these disturbances caused by humans have a lasting impact. They destroy ecosystems and biodiversity.

  • Growing human population: Between 1970 and 2021, the human population has grown from 3.7 Billion to 7.9 Billion.
  • Construction of cities: With this rise in the world’s population, more and more space is needed. Cities and houses are built for the booming population.
  • Farming: More and more land is needed to grow food to sustain the growing population. Over 40% of the world’s habitable land has been converted for agricultural purposes. 77% of which is used for feeding livestock.
  • Pollution: A growth in population equals a rise in consumption, which leads to a rise in waste produced. Waste pollutes and destroys the ecosystems around us through plastics and chemicals. It also takes up space. Stretches of land must be cleared to create landfills. All the waste produced by human consumption is dumped here.

All this human growth expands onto ecosystems. Forcing species out of the natural habitats or wiping them out completely.

DISRUPTION BY NON-NATIVE SPECIES

There is a less common but growing threat to biodiversity. The disruption of ecosystems by non-native species.

Also known as introduced species, invasive species, alien species, or exotic species. These are species that have been brought into an ecosystem. Either by humans or have migrated from other areas.

Because these species are not native to their new area, they often have no natural predators. Natural predators keep their population in balance with the ecosystem. 

Non-native species can become over-populated. Eating local crops too quickly for them to grow back in natural and sustainable cycles.

This goes for plants as well. Non-native plants may grow much faster in a climate they are not used to. Stealing all the soil nutrients and sunlight native plants need to grow.

See more at: https://completelandscaping.com/why-non-native-plants-can-be-harmful/

Other non-native species can become the predator in an ecosystem. Wiping out local animals that before had no predators. 

Some ecosystems are not equipped to sustain such predators. The loss of biodiversity may begin with the loss of one species. Then quickly lead to more and more species will die out or migrate either for food or safety. 

WHERE DO YOU FIND THE GREATEST AMOUNT OF BIODIVERSITY?

Where is the rainforest located?

 

In the warm tropical rainforests of South America lies Amazonia. It holds the greatest amount of biodiversity. It is an area so large that it covers 8 countries!

HOW DOES LOSS OF BIODIVERSITY AFFECT HUMANS?

The answer to that question is scary. An ecosystem is like a chain, kept together by links. Destroy one link, and you destroy the whole chain. 

Planet earth is an ecosystem filled with smaller ecosystems surviving off of biodiversity. If we do not stop the loss of biodiversity, we will lose ecosystems. 

One by one, the ecosystems around the planet will have no biodiversity. Nothing to sustain themselves, and unfortunately, will fail us all.

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